Asia Bibi arrives in Canada after leaving Pakistan

Christian woman freed last year after spending eight years on death row for blasphemy

Asia Bibi
Asia Bibi had been in protective custody since her release last October. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who spent eight years on death row in Pakistanfor blasphemy before she was freed last year, has flown to Canada where she has reunited with her family, her lawyer has said.

“It is a big day,” Saiful Malook told the Guardian. “Asia Bibi has left Pakistan and reached Canada. She has reunited with her family. Justice has been dispensed.”

Bibi’s arrival in Canada could mark the end of a nine-year ordeal for the farm labourer whose case – based on a dubious accusation she had insulted the prophet Muhammad – became linked to the assassinations of a provincial governor and a cabinet minister and a cause célèbre among Christian and human rights activists.

She has been in protective custody since she was released from prison last year after Pakistan’s top court acquitted her of blasphemy. By the afternoon of the verdict on 31 October, demonstrators wielding clubs had blocked highways and were pelting police with stones in cities including the capital, Islamabad, and Karachi.

Islamist groups including Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP), a movement dedicated to upholding Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws, protested for three days after the verdict, paralysing parts of the country until the government struck an agreement that included a promise the case would be appealed. The supreme court upheld the acquittal in January.

Canada had offered Bibi asylum, but close friends had told the Guardian the woman was being prevented from leaving by authorities. Her children left for the country late last year.

Malook said Bibi’s safe arrival in Canada was the result of hard work by activists, foreign diplomats and others “who stood by Bibi in hard times and worked for her freedom”.


Categories: Americas, Asia, Canada, Pakistan

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1 reply

  1. Some aspects of the ‘Asia Bibi’ case have never been mentioned in the media. One is that the initial claim of blasphemy because Asia Bibi drunk from the same glass as her accusers is in fact a Hindu caste crime. In other words her accusers should have been accused of ‘blasphemy’ for behaving like olden-days (not even present days) Hindus. The other thing is that some media report that Christians in Pakistan mostly live in slums, but fail to mention that the Christian converts are actually from the old ‘untouchable’ caste of Hindus and continue to carry out such work as the untouchables used to do (the majority of them anyway).

    But then it would have to be a too long article to explain these details and ‘modern men’ could not keep attention to read that much.

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